Leadership Traits of a Successful CEO

By Joseph Richards

Updated Over a Week Ago

Minute Read

Out of all the businesses ever started, only a small percentage of them last. Much of the success of any given company lies in the hands of a successful CEO. It is a job that requires innovation and the ability to evaluate problems from all angles.

There are surefire routes to success, and being able to break the mold is one of these. A successful CEO possesses the leadership traits necessary to make people follow and trust them.

The CEO builds the framework that will make or break a company. Certain traits combined make them more effective.


Elon Musk is one of the most innovative and influential CEOs in the tech world today. With Tesla a huge hit and SpaceX seemingly flourishing, there is no doubt that he knows what it takes to lead a company. He is often criticized for micromanaging and has even described himself as a nano-manager, but he has accrued a net worth of over $200 billion.

One thing that Musk excels at is getting his hands on everything. He is one of the primary innovators and engineers behind almost every project that comes out of each of his several companies. Like Steve Jobs, his drive for perfection and his propensity to put a piece of himself into the product make his companies some of the most successful in the world.


Dan Price is someone you may have barely just heard about, but the Gravity Payments CEO and founder are making big waves right now. Caring about employees’ happiness and well-being is not typically the first trait you think of when you picture a successful CEO. Often they are seen as greedy – making obscene amounts of money while employees are making just enough to get by.

After a Princeton study concluded that people making less than ~$70,000 would be more “prone to emotional pain and general dissatisfaction,” he decided to make a change. Over the course of three years, the wages of all of his employees will rise to $70,000. This bold, selfless, and caring move has surprised employees and gained Price and his company some much-deserved attention.

Innovation and Perseverance

Brian Chesky, the founder of Airbnb, is a pioneer of the sharing economy. Put simply; the idea can best be represented as a question: Why buy something if somebody else already has it?

Chesky’s company is one of the many app/internet-based sharing companies around right now. It is also one of the biggest and most successful. The way AirBnB works is that people temporarily offer up their homes and other living arrangements in exchange for money, a small piece of which is withheld by AirBnB for facilitating the transaction. Chesky says that anyone should be able to explore the world and that expensive accommodations should not be stopping them.

Airbnb was not an endeavor that saw immediate success, but Brian Chesky would not give up without a fight. Starting in 2008, the company struggled for years until it finally caught on, and even now, it still has room to grow. Chesky never gave up, and he probably won’t stop until all of the kinks are worked out.


Tim Cook is a significantly different type of leader than Steve Jobs. However, they have been successful in running the same company. This infographic from Ohio University shows how Apple has changed from Steve Jobs to Tim Cook. Although Steve Jobs was famous for being a perfectionist, this does not mean that it is the only way to run one of the biggest tech giants in the world.

There is something to be said about Tim Cook’s transparency. When iOS 6 rolled out, Apple was excited to showcase its new maps app. Unfortunately, it did not succeed, and iPhone users were less than impressed. Tim Cook admitted fault and even suggested that they try a third-party app while it got sorted out. This kind of transparency and admission of fault is something that resonates very well with people.

At the top of each company, small or big, there is a person whose main task is to keep things running smoothly. This is no small task, though. It is a clockwork of decision-making, networking, and sacrifice. This is why a successful CEO must display traits that are above and beyond those of an average leader.

What Makes a Successful CEO?

If you have ideas that you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

Would you like to contribute a post?

Joseph Richards
Joseph Richards
C. Joseph is a student and writer who is interested in topics, ranging from the camping and backpacking to business.
{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
Brilliant Leadership Logo

Improve Yourself & Your Team

Get The Training Proven By 40,000+ Leaders